In my last entry, I talked about the first time I discovered that the guy with the title (in this case, me) was not always the real leader. It was kind of shocking to discover this since I thought my title brought leadership with it automatically. I mean, I was on the Organizational Chart, at the top, with a fancy title. Of course I was the leader.
In reality, organizational charts, titles, and salaries have little to do with being a leader. At its simplest level, leadership is about one thing – having followers. John Maxwell likes to say, “If you think you are leading and no one is following, you’re just out taking a walk.”
As it turns out, that’s what I was doing. I was taking a walk, and no one was following me. It wasn’t that they didn’t want to follow me, they did. They liked what I had to say. They thought my ideas were inspirational and that my vision for the department was both worthy and achievable. But they lived in the real world and, in this case, the real world was controlled by the computer operator, not the guy in the office.
It took me a few weeks to realize that they weren’t following me and a little longer to figure out who they actually were following. After that, I was able to determine the source of the computer operator’s influence (intimidation) and eliminate that influence. Once I did that, the team willingly followed me and together we achieved tremendous success. But the real lesson here was that title and authority did not equate to a position as leader; influence did. From that point forward, I began to look around to see who was really in charge in a variety of different scenarios. Whether I was at work, at home, or even in public, I began to notice that the people with the most influence, the people that we were actually following, were often not the same people as those who were supposedly in charge.
As my career progressed, I found that I was increasingly called upon to turn around troubled departments or organizations. Even though I worked for a variety of different people over the years, all seemed to readily acknowledge my ability to sort through process and people issues and turn organizations around. In many ways, I found myself specializing my career not based on my technical skills but on my ability to understand what was important to an organization, to plot a clear course to achieve the right goals, and to put the right people and processes in place to move forward quickly. In short, my job was to assume leadership in a poorly run organization and turn that organization in the right direction.
But, if I was going to assume the leadership role in an organization, I needed to understand what leader I was replacing. And that was often not the person who had the job before me, or the person at the top of the organizational chart. Instead, it was often another employee or manager in the organization.
That is the ultimate question. And I’ll talk more about how I learned to identify the “real leaders” in the organization in my next entry. Until then, I encourage you to review some of our past blog entries and explore some of our offerings at ECI Learning.
At ECI Learning Systems LLC, we are dedicated to helping companies get the greatest return from their most valuable asset: their employees. We work with you to align 3 key organizational factors:
• Your Company Culture
• The Leadership Styles of your key managers
• The Expectations of your Employees
When these 3 factors are aligned, you create an energy in your company that improves productivity, reduces absenteeism, increases creativity, and positively impacts your bottom line. Contact ECI Learning Systems LLC today to get your free Workplace Evaluation.
Until next time....
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